Panchkula Municipal Corporation (MC) is spending Rs 2.84 crore to reconstruct at least eight roundabouts, implementing a design, tested and eventually trashed by Chandigarh administration 15 years ago because of “safety concerns”, according to former Union Territory Chief Engineer S K Chadha who lives in Sector 8, Panchkula.
Chadha told Chandigarh Newsline that he had informed the Panchkula Municipal Corporation about this before the revamping work began.
“Panchkula is repeating the same mistake,” said Chadha who was executive engineer in Chandigarh MC at the time when it had scrapped the design. Later he went on to be the UT chief engineer.
The revamped design is a two-level roundabout — a higher inner circle with a landscaped garden, and an outer pathway, which is just six inches above the road.
“The same project of redesigning the roundabouts by reducing the outer wall (pathway) was carried out in Chandigarh in 2003. The revamp of the roundabout of Sectors 5,6,8,9 was the pilot project. But since the area became accident-prone, we had to trash the project,” Chadha told Chandigarh Newsline.
“In Panchkula, it becomes even riskier as the electricity poles that were initially inside the perimeter wall of the roundabouts have now come out on the pathways. It could pose a serious threat in case a motorist rams into them, can even turn fatal”, Chadha added.
He also expressed apprehension that the situation may get even worse, when it rains. “Panchkula has a serious problem of water-logging during rains, especially around the roundabouts. At least one-two feet water gets accumulated around these roundabouts because of no proper drainage. In that case, these pathways would not be even visible to the motorists, thereby increasing chances of mishaps. In Panchkula, the pathways’ height is just around six inches from the road, same as Chandigarh,” Chadha told Chandigarh Newsline, claiming that he had raised these issues with the Panchkula MC several times, but nobody heard him.
Chief Engineer M C Manoj Bansal, however, said he was not aware of it. “In fact the officials kept changing. We will get it checked and corrected, if the former UT Chief Engineer has raised it,” said Bansal.
Subhash Chawla, who was the mayor of Chandigarh in 2003, confirmed that they did not go ahead with the project as there were several accidents.
“It was a blunder. Initially we kept the height around six inch from the road, the same that Panchkula has kept now, but there were many accidents in Chandigarh as motorists hit the footpath. The only thing as correction we could do was to increase the height of this outer wall by up to 12 inches, which was done in 2009,” Chawla said.
Not only Chadha, Panchkula residents are also objecting to the new design of the roundabouts.
Rakesh Aggarwal, President of Sector 12 Residents Welfare Association, said he had written several emails to the MC, asking them about the logic behind redesigning of these roundabouts. “I did not get any reply till date”.
“If you look at these roundabouts, the reflectors have been put on the inner perimeter wall, while the pathways are not visible in the dark. It may lead to serious accidents as the motorists will not be able to see the pathways,” Aggarwal said.
However, Navdeep Asija, the road safety advisor who recommended the “geometrical corrections” for Panchkula’s roundabouts defended the new design.
“Pathways along the roundabout are buffer zones, constructed for the safety of the people. These buffer zones will reduce the speed of the motorist if he/she loses control and instead of banging straight into the perimeter wall, he/she will just get over the pathway and it will act more as a speed breaker,” Asija said.